Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The 2020 Pusan-Pyongyang Olympiad?

A few years ago I made a bet with someone, before Kim Ilsung's demise, that North and South Korea would unify within five years of the Great Leader's Death. Obviously I lost that bet. My point is that figuring out where Korean relations will be, say, fifteen years in the future, is a risky prospect.

But Pusan Governor-Mayor Hur Namsik has more confidence about his augury skills than I do, because he's predicting that North-South relations will be so rosy in the next decade that Pusan and Pyongyang should
co-host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Pusan, Korea's #2 city, has successfully hosted the Asian Games and is eager to host the Olympics (rural Pyongchang County is a major contender for the 2014 Winter Olympics after narrowly losing the rights to host the 2010 Winter Olympiad). In 1988, there were attempts even then for Pyongyang to host some of the events, but it fell through and North Korea ended up boycotting the games, along with Cuba.

Mayor Hur described this as a passion of his, but he claims he isn't going to give North Korea a free ride on this:

This has to be on the condition there is progress in North-South Korean relations.
What does North Korea have to say about this? Well, Hur hasn't discussed the idea with them. The IOC will decide in eight years who hosts the 2020 Olympics, and a bid must be submitted by 2009, so there's time to get the stories straight.

Hur is using APEC as a good opportunity to announce that he would soon set up a Pusan bid committee. The prospect of using the games to promote democratic progress in North Korea may be an incentive for Pusan to be chosen, although so far the prospect of using the Games as a means for democratic development is fading with the next Summer Olympics host, Beijing.

Buvi, Pusan's official icon, once voted by netizens as the world's most obscure mascot.

If Pyongchang is awarded the 2014 Olympics, it's not clear if that could hurt Pusan's chances. Pyongchang reportedly lost out on hosting in 2010 mostly because of the continental rotation scheme that tries to keep the Olympics moving to diverse locations, but that same rotation favors Pyongchang in 2014. The Summer and Winter Olympics are more loosely coordinated, and Mayor Hur says that in 2020 it would appear that an Asian city will win the bidding process.

According to the Reuters article, Pusan hosted the yachting events for the 1988 Olympics, so it is no stranger to the five-ringed flag. But "co-hosting" with Seoul is different from co-hosting with Pyongyang. Inch'ŏn has thought of hosting the 2014 Asian Games, but that meant spending a chunk of change to complete the unfinished 300-meter high eyesore known as the Ryugyŏng Hotel.
Inchon Incheon Pyeongchang Ryugyong Ryugyeong Busan Busan Busan

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts, but please be kind and respectful. My mom reads this blog.